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When you think of payroll, the last thing that probably comes to mind is “flexibility.” For longer than anyone reading this blog can remember, payday has come on the same day(s) of the month for most employees. This puts a significant portion of the global workforce in a bind; they live paycheck to paycheck, and find it difficult to make ends meet, pay down debt, and save money.
However, in today’s world of increasingly instant gratification, those days could be ending.
Enter “On-demand Payroll,” an emerging area within payroll that gives employees the freedom to decide how and when they want to get paid, and provides them some level of safety should an unexpected expense pop up that wasn’t on their radar.
Increase in flexibility: One of the key benefits is that it enables employees to choose their pay schedules and stay on top of their finances or react to sudden expenses.
“Payrolling” the gig-economy: With the world moving towards the gig-economy, an on-demand payroll system has the potential to overcome the limitations of the current payroll process for contingent workers and freelancers.
Financial wellness: This will help workers better plan and budget their expenses, preventing them from running into cash flow problems. Additionally, it will help them stay away from predatory lenders and payday loan products that can lead to added fees and greater financial burdens.
Expedited payroll for unexpected situations: In cases of missed payroll deadlines or an employee’s unexpected departure, an on-demand payroll framework can eliminate any delay and proceed with the payment instantly.
All this results in better employee engagement and satisfaction, leading to an overall increase in the employee experience.
Employers will also benefit. Given the strong link between financial stress and employee health, on-demand payroll will result in reduced absenteeism and increased employee productivity and retention.
Payroll service providers and FinTech companies are developing capabilities to support enterprises’ desire to move to on-demand payroll. For example, there’s been a rise in financial wellness platforms that help employees budget, plan, and track their expenditures and savings. And digital wallets and pay cards can serve as alternatives to banks by acting as vehicles for direct deposit and allowing payments for purchases, and can facilitate faster payroll payouts.
Earned wage payments –The employee uses the on-demand payroll platform to request payment for hours/shifts worked, choosing to receive the payment in a wallet, on a pay card, or into a selected bank account. The deduction is calculated into the employee’s regular cycle payroll payment, whether it was for the full or partial amount. For this to work effectively and seamlessly, the enterprise needs to have an integrated system that can access all the relevant information needed for payroll processing, such as work hours data, tax related information, and employee data.
Advance payments – The employee asks for a salary advance (the maximum amount may be limited by company policies.) Although this scenario does not require a sophisticated and integrated system, enterprises must carefully track these transactions to make sure they’re properly accounted for, and to avoid running into cash flow issues.
Just like all other innovative approaches, on-demand payroll also comes with its fair share of challenges. So, here are several questions you should ponder before making the move.
Will there be an impact on my enterprise’s cash flows?
While employers may embrace a heightened role in their employees’ financial wellness, changes in pay schedules can mean disruption to cash flow management and forecasting, as well as added administrative burdens.
Will this impact tax calculations and payments to the government?
Due to the personalized nature of payments, employees may be withdrawing cash during non-standard financial cycles. Enterprises need to take into consideration whether it will impact the various mandatory reporting mechanisms, government payments, and filings.
What commercial model should be employed when a platform is used?
The most appropriate commercial model will be jointly determined by the on-demand payroll platform provider and the enterprise. Points to factor into the decision include whether or not the employees will be charged for using the platform, and whether a bank must be involved in advance salary requests.
How will the system be implemented?
Enterprises will need to integrate the various components required for a seamless transition to the new system, including time and attendance, the payroll platform, etc. They must pay particular attention to how the relevant data will be accessed, processed, and reported.
On-demand payroll forms a crucial part of the broader concept of “Employee Experience Suites.” Our upcoming three-part research series will cover these, practical ways to improve the employee experience, and some of the startup trailblazers disrupting this area.
Is your enterprise planning to reimagine the payroll process? Have you successfully implemented on-demand payroll? We’d love to hear from you about your experiences, questions, and concerns. Please connect with us directly at:
On 31 January 2017, Australia-based Ascender and NGA Human Resources announced that Ascender had acquired NGA’s Australia and New Zealand business. Part of the agreement is a partnership between the two companies to deliver payroll and HR services solutions for the ANZ region, ensuring a seamless solution for NGA HR’s global payroll and HR clients. The deal makes Ascender one of the largest HR and Payroll providers in the ANZ and APAC region.
What are the implications of the deal?
Of course, as with any deal of this type, there are numerous things those in the region should watch out for.
First, NGA and Ascender will be looking to forge a partnership in a way that is beneficial to both parties beyond the immediate operational need. The scope and extent of this new partnership will evolve and take shape as the dust settles. It remains to be seen what form it will take, especially in light of Ascender’s recent entry into the Europe-based Payroll Services Alliance, wherein eight major payroll service companies have bundled their services into a unified offering that consists of strong local expertise and services, supplemented by coordination and integration at an international level.
As far as technology is concerned, with NGA’s PS Enterprise and Preceda HCM platforms coming into Ascender’s fold as part of the acquisition, Ascender will likely seek to integrate the different system capabilities under one brand over time. As with a lot of private equity-backed acquisitions, since the focus will be on improving margins, we are likely to see more investment in consolidating and improving technology, driving automation, and increasing self-service functionality.
Although the APAC market continues to experience relatively high growth rates – 7-9% in single country payroll outsourcing and 23-25% in MCPO – the region is fairly complex, and each country requires a distinct strategy to ensure sustainable growth. For instance, while India requires a heavily price-sensitive services sales approach, a technology-driven approach works better in Australia.
With the APAC region requiring a great deal of management attention and local presence to drive continued success, global providers’ APAC arms tend to be private equity acquisition targets. Indeed, while Western economy-based global players don’t necessarily have the focus to negotiate the uniqueness of the APAC region’s HR services and payroll requirements, private equity can certainly help bring that focus to the table. For example, Ascender is backed by a private equity-led consortium, and just two years ago, private equity firm Everstone Capital bought out Aon Hewitt’s APAC business, (renamed Excelity Global).
While not all will be private equity-driven, we do anticipate more acquisitions and consolidation in this space in the APAC region as the market matures, particularly in geographic markets that are fragmented, with no clear leader in sight.